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Emma going old school at Mohonasen

Emma going old school at Mohonasen

First-year head coach eyes turnaround
Emma going old school at Mohonasen
New Mohonasen varsity football coach Joe Emma shouts instructions during Monday's preseason camp.
Photographer: MARC SCHULTZ/GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER

ROTTERDAM — Joe Emma is bringing old school football back to Mohonasen.

The spread offense will still be part of the Mighty Warriors' offensive package, but it will be run first under the school's new varsity coach.

"The name of the game is to score touchdowns," Emma said Monday as his team began a week-long camp with Niskayuna. "Fanciness doesn't show in the box score. We're going to be a little different. We're going to drive for five."

That would be five yards, and if things go according to plan, five more. It's a style Emma employed while having consistent success at the junior varsity level at Mohonasen the last four years.

In 2016, Mohonasen went 7-2 and won the Section II Class A JV championship, and last year Emma's team went 4-4. In 2014 and 2015, his teams put together records of 5-3 and 6-2, respectively.

"We'll blend spread with power," said Emma, who served as a varsity assistant at Mohonasen under lead man Dennis Corbitt in 2013. "We're going to be a running team until we have to pass. Some teams go to the air all the time."

The retired Albany School District teacher and administrator said he wants to avoid mistakes through the air that can change the complexion of a game.

"It's safer," Emma said of running the football. "If you're in the gun, the center has to snap it correctly, the quarterback has to catch it, and then there's everything else."

A large number of the Mighty Warriors played on Emma's JV teams, and they like what he brings to the table. He's big on organization and effort.

"He's a good leader who pushes commitment and intensity," said rising senior Russell Welch, a defensive end who'll also play fullback or in the offensive line. "That's what it's going to take to turn this around."

Mohonasen won seven games over the last three seasons under head coach Scott Sabourin, which included victories against Green Tech and Scotia-Glenville last season. Sabourin had a history-making stretch before with the Mighty Warriors, from 1996-2007, which included the varsity team's first playoff appearance, first playoff win and four sectional semifinal appearances.

"With the new staff, everyone is looking for a bright future," Welch said. "Everyone is going to do what it takes."

Mohonasen will compete this season in the new-look Section II Class A league that has added former Class AA teams Ballston Spa, Columbia, LaSalle and 2016-17 state champ Troy due to new enrollment figures. Mohonasen will be coupled with Ballston Spa, Queensbury, South Glens Falls, Gloversville, Scotia-Glenville and 2017 state semifinalist Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake in the Grasso Division.

Mohonasen also has a non-league game scheduled with Class B Hudson Falls.

"We're going to put on the field a well-conditioned, competitive team," Emma said. "We are looking for a real positive and successful season here. We have to work at it. I told them, 'Sweat plus sacrifice equals success. You've got to give it everything you have.'"

Emma is a big believer in building strength and stamina through weight training, and he has had his group working hard.

"You want them bigger and stronger," he said. "We've been in the weight room since the middle of February, and we're still there now. That's where you win ball games."

Team bonding has been another aspect in Emma's buildup to the 2018 campaign, which officially begins Monday, Aug. 13, for schools throughout the state.

"When I was the JV coach, we did a lot of character building. We talked a lot about pride and team unity and everyone being a part of it," Emma said. "We've continued to do that."

Emma said he will have roughly 40 student athletes on his varsity team, a significant increase from a year ago. The veteran cast includes rising junior and 2017 rushing leader Paul Archambault, and rising sophomore Tyler Reinke, a standout middle linebacker.

"The best recruiting piece you can have is winning a championship. It sells the program," Emma said of the 2016 JV title. "There's a lot of excitement in the program at the varsity, JV and even the modified level."

Reach Gazette Sportswriter Jim Schiltz at 518-395-3143, [email protected] or @jim_schiltz on Twitter.

 

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